By Kimberly Reyes
More than Pop Tarts or Bruce Banner,
my mom’s quick wit was my gift,
our shared triumph,
her beam, still fighting,
still light in irises
the color of her skin.
Hearing her ignite
through the voice
of her childhood dog,
a silent sponge
for weathering waves
of the strange hide and seek
he obediently observed,
Her banter, her barking,
her delight in playing
stilled us, at my grandmother’s house.
More than the smell of blood, peroxide,
or falling off my dusty pink
Mrs. Pac Man skateboard,
the scent of soreness from laughter:
I didn’t know then how much the scars would count.
How age would make it all a collage
without legend, key.
Without the speckled blood in the pavement
I could scrape the white off my fingernails to
connect the dots with.
How I’d mourn the dog
she had to forget she buried
because it was an accident
because of her baby brother
who fought to bury
the hallucinations, his scarlet scenes,
but too precious for this world.
without his small peach pills.
The smell of boiled fur
hanging, I still remember.
How the most innocent suffered
the most cruelty for his mute loyalty.
For her, the specifics melted away
and hid in the merciful wings of dismemory,
running, panning out.
Painting a sigh, tasting a glance,
she used to be able to do that,
but survival required broad strokes
with the new slits of irons framing her nose
juggling the weight
my nascent compass,
struggling to stand straight.
Scrape ballerina corns
foreign signposts, goals
race: yellow cotton fields
on hard, charred feet
Kimberly Reyes began her transition to creative writing after receiving her MA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2013. She’s since been a post-graduate journalism fellow at the Poetry Foundation in 2013, a Callaloo fellow in 2014, a Watering Hole fellow in 2015, and she is currently a William Dickey Fellow and MFA candidate in poetry at San Francisco State University. Her nonfiction has appeared in the Associated Press, Entertainment Weekly, Time.com, The New York Post, The Village Voice, Alternative Press, ESPN the Magazine, Jane, Honey, NY1 News and The Best American Poetry blog. Her poetry has appeared on The Feminist Wire, The Acentos Review, Transfer Magazine and in Belleville Park Pages.